When my cousin Monica married her fiancé John, with their best friends Gillian and Philip in attendance, there were smiles when it became apparent that here were two rhyming couples: Mon and John, Gill and Phil.
For a while, these were the only rhyming couples I was aware of and then I began to hear of others: Al and Val, Stan and Ann, Andy and Mandy, even Rudi and Trudi. My old friend John married a girl called Kathleen, and they were Jay and Kay. As usual, once you have become aware of a phenomenon it keeps recurring and you find it everywhere. Graffiti emblazoned on the local park gates has long declared the everlasting love of Cat + Nat, who are probably no longer an item. Even celebrities sometimes find rhyming partners – the media loved Jen and Ben, though I don’t think the Clintons were ever popularised as Bill and Hill.
Then it struck me that sometimes, even siblings fall into rhyme – the Dewie, Huey and Louie syndrome – and I wondered if parents did this deliberately or simply liked certain sounds. My father, for instance, was christened Roland but in adult life was always known as Ron or Ronnie. His older sister was Constance, called Connie throughout her life. Their two youngest sisters were Mary and Clara – they could have been known as Mare and Clare. I have a friend, Christine, with a close sister Georgina (Tina and Gina) whose older siblings are Mavis and David (Mave and Dave), and we had distant relatives who were brothers, called Ken and Len. It would have been nice if those two had married sisters called Denise and Wendy (Den and Wen), but they didn’t: that could have been a sort of record.
I continue to collect these rhyming pairs, which are mostly monosyllabic, and hope for two or even three syllable rhymes – the statistical probability of a Mickey and Vicky or Darren and Sharon must be high but I haven’t yet found them. Some couples even share the same name. I used to know a French-speaking couple who were both called Dominique, and were known in the family simply as “Le Dominique” and “La Dominique””.
Now, where are the Hilaries, Evelyns and Leslies with their homonymic partners?